The sunroom: Spanish murals, French doors, California views.
Older oceanfront houses are a rarity in San Diego. Sand, water, and salty air conspire to degrade building materials years or decades faster than the same stuff used to build homes just a few blocks inland. And land that’s been assigned an astronomical monetary value demands similarly impressive improvements, driving those fortunate enough to have the disposable income to tear down and rebuild, only to repeat the process a decade or so later.
That makes the Spanish hacienda at 5270 Chelsea Street at the southern edge of La Jolla a rarity. Built in 1963, the 3100-square-foot home has been owned and meticulously maintained in near-original condition by the same family for 55 years, preserving a glimpse of what Southern California beachfront luxury looked like in the middle of the last century.
According to promotional materials retrieved from Realtor.com, the home “radiates with tranquility from its 13,000-square-foot lot atop Bird Rock.”
In La Jolla, 1963 counts as thoroughly old school glamour.
Positioned just where the cliffs of La Jolla begin to rise north of Tourmaline Beach, the third-acre parcel includes 80 feet of direct ocean frontage at its rear, along with a gated entry and large courtyard space in front.
Inside, “the open floorplan enjoys vaulted ceilings, Saltillo tile flooring, hand-carved doors from Mexico, and large bay windows for views from nearly every room.” The custom craftsmanship on display includes exposed beam ceilings with intricate hand-carved designs in the wood, arched windows and doorways lined in tile, a carved marble fireplace in the living room, and frescoes painted on the domed ceiling of the sun room and vaulted kitchen. Stained glass windows throughout are placed in artfully-designed relief high along the walls of several rooms.
In contrast to other homes of its caliber, instead of the requisite “chef’s kitchen” the Chelsea hacienda features simply a “large eat-in kitchen with walk-in pantry” outfitted with Mexican tile counters, built-in refrigerator, double wall ovens, and a center island with bar seating.
The main level also includes formal living and dining rooms, a main en-suite bedroom with private sitting area, and two more bedrooms — one of which, by virtue of flanking the entertainer’s courtyard in the front yard, is the only room in the house without a direct ocean view. A mud room adjacent to the three-car garage and sunroom with French doors leading to the backyard complete the first floor, while a separate guest suite with dual walk-in closets and a private balcony occupies the second level.
Out back is a grassy lawn offering panoramic southwesterly-facing ocean views from Pacific Beach to Point Loma, along with “an exceedingly rare oceanfront pool overlooking the surf.”
Other home feature include a workshop and storage area off the garage, security system, multi-zoned climate control, and direct beach access located just three doors down.
Public records indicate ownership of the home lies with the family of George and Martha Gafford, who occupied the home until their deaths in 2014 and 2019. Mr. Gafford was a local lawyer and law professor, Mrs. Gafford a philanthropist whose work promoting San Diego culture included the founding of the Mainly Mozart Festival of classical music.
Thanks to the Gaffords’ long term of ownership and California’s Proposition 13 tax benefits, the Chelsea estate’s tax value is just $393,000, carrying with it an annual tax bill of $4788.
After five-and-a-half decades of family ownership, the home was publicly offered for sale for the first time in mid-September with an asking price of $8,450,000 that remains unchanged to date.
5270 Chelsea Street | La Jolla, 92037
Beds: 4 | Baths: 4 | Current Owners: Gafford family | List Price: $8,450,000